The Demise of Buy & Hold

May 13 21:00 2003 Ulli G. Niemann Print This Article

Based on ... results I think Buy & Hold should ... Buy, Hold & Bye-Bye. It sounded great for a ... for the huge majority of ... who don't have thetime or interest in r

Based on consistent results I think Buy & Hold should be
renamed Buy,Guest Posting Hold & Bye-Bye. It sounded great for a while,
especially for the huge majority of investors who don't have the
time or interest in really doing due diligence on investments.

Investing, for some, might be just a hobby, but it can sure be
an expensive one. Yet, if you're like many of us, you know there
are opportunities for putting your money to work and having it
grow. Nonetheless, investing, like any business (and it is a
business) has its own unique challenges. Her are what I consider
to be the top three.

1. Intelligently Deciding What to Buy

When it comes to Mutual Funds, there are today over 13,000
choices. You're going to check out each one, right? Yeah, right.
And even for those you do check out, what are you going to look
at? Past performance? What else can you look at? But as it says
on the bottom of every prospectus, past performance is no
guarantee of future results. And in these days of cockeyed
cooked books, past performance is barely a guarantee of past
results! So you need to decide not only what to buy, but you
have to be darn sure you know when to sell it when future
results of an investment don't match your expectations.

Sure, there are investment rating services that provide a false
sense of security to Buy & Holders. But the fact is that pretty
much every investment that rating services have touted over the
last few years has lost money. So much for depending on that
sort of expert advice.

2. Determining When to Buy?

It shouldn't matter when you buy if you're never going to
sell-but it does. If you buy just before the market falls, guess
what: You will start with a loss that you have to recover before
your investment begins making money. So what? According to
statistics on mutual fund sales, most investors buy just in time
to grab a loss.

Buy & Hold may turn out to be a profitable approach if you
intend to hold forever. But we don't live forever, and most
people are going to want to sell their investments at some point
before forever hits. It's small comfort to know that if you hold
your investments for another 20 years, they will make
money-especially if you're retired and want to take a cruise
next month.

3. Staying the Course.

It takes a strong stomach to hang on to an investment when you
see it disappearing before your very eyes. Or even when it's up
one day and down the next. (Like these days, for example.) And
once you decide that having to wait for three decades before
your investment gets back to square one is not such a great
deal, what happens to your Buy & Hold strategy then? It's out
the window and all you're holding is the bag. The much emptier
bag.

So what's an investor to do, especially an investor who's really
not a professional? For one thing, find a reliable method of
gaining information. One that I like is a trend analysis
approach that objectifies market behavior. This type of approach
is more kinetic in that it doesn't rely on past performance-it
relies on past and present performance to indicate a "trend"
toward future performance. While that's not infallible in any
sense of the word, it is a broader range of information than
most guides.

Using one of those as a foundation for your strategy, determine
a buy point and, most importantly, a sell point for any
investment you make. Get comfortable with taking small losses
before they turn into big disasters.

There is always risk in investing. However there are ways to
minimize risk so you become an investor, not merely a gambler
with high hopes for a Buy & Hold approach that many people have
now found to have failed them.

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About Article Author

Ulli G. Niemann
Ulli G. Niemann

Ulli Niemann is an investment advisor and has been writing about
objective, methodical approaches to investing for over 10 years.
He eluded the bear market of 2000 and has helped hundreds of
people make better investment decisions. To find out more about
his approach and his FREE Newsletter, please visit:
http://www.successful-investment.com

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